Thursday, May 3, 2012

Random Music Musings: Some interesting discoveries and re-discoveries

Every now and again, I'll just download a song or an album just for the hell of it. We all do that, I'm sure; something in your head reminds you "hey, you should listen to that - someone said it was good". I never remember who, so it might've been me to begin with or some internet tout.  Here's some of the albums and cuts I've picked up on my recent meanderings.

Alice Cooper Goes to Hell. Alice Cooper's 9th studio album came out in 1976. I always remember it because of his performance at the Grammy Awards that year, when he ripped the clothes of one of his co-presenters as as a lead into the song "Go to Hell". The seventies were both kind and very unkind to Cooper, as his career temporarily hit the skids with a stay in a mental hospital. This album is considerably more pop than his early or much later work. The title track is really the hardest, nearly-metal song of the whole disc. There are some catchy tunes on this one, my personal favorite being "Didn't We Meet (in the Night in My Dreams Somewhere)". The hit "I Never Cry" is the centerpiece of the album. 

The Church, Starfish. This is one of those albums I cannot believe I missed when it first came out. I remember The Church's big hit, "Under the Milky Way", but for some reason or another I must have dismissed it back then. I recently picked this one up and the entire album is fantastic! There's a musical cohesiveness to all the cuts that brings it all together. The band also has some excellent lyrics. I can understand why a lot of people have referred to the Church as virtual clones of Pink Floyd, as the song "Destination" could easily have been inserting on any eighties Floyd album and it would've fit in perfectly. The Church takes their sounds and words to a different, less ego-centric place than Roger Waters did with Floyd. "Reptile" and "Hotel Womb" are also stand-out cuts.

Aimee Mann, WhateverI cannot believe that somehow this one got lost out of my CD collection. This was one of Aimee Mann's first efforts after her break-up of Til Tuesday (known for their epic hit Voices Carry). Another example of that rare breed of intelligent pop music, Mann tells some excellent stories here with good hooks and without being preachy or long-winded about things. "I Should of Known..." opens the album wonderfully, almost every song on the album would've been worthy of a single release (back in those ancient days when singles meant more than they do now). I've enjoyed every Aimee Mann album I've every heard. They can be a little angst-y, but she doesn't slam it in your face like a lot of alternative/college rock acts.

And lastly, just a single I picked up last night because it happened to show up in a search when I was looking for something else. The Producers were one of the innumerable bands coming out of Atlanta, Georgia in the wake of R.E.M. and the B-52s. They put out two albums, had a couple of Top 100 hits, a lot of MTV video airplay, and went their way. With two hits, they don't even end up being featured on the One-Hit Wonder reviews, and that's a shame. The Producers had an energetic sound and some good hooks. I remember getting both albums back in the day, but the one song that I think the group is most remembered for is the catchy "She Sheila", a version of the oft-heard musical paean to the woman who you see everywhere but just can't get her to see you. It was worth the 99-cents on Amazon to get that opening keyboard procession back on my mp3 player.

Below is the YouTube for the somewhat minimalist MTV video for "She Sheila" (from the album You Make the Heat). Enjoy!


by Rich Meyer

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